Nighthawks: A Writing Project

I first saw the painting Nighthawks when I was a kid. It was a featured poster in the new shop in the mall, where you could purchase an image of Spuds McKenzie driving a Porsche, or Monet’s ‘Waterlilies’ framed in black plastic while you wandered down to Orange Julius for a smoothie.

I fell in love with Nighthawks immediately, and later, with Edward Hopper in general. Hopper’s use of light and architecture speaks to me in every painting and sketch he’s ever done. Nighthawks, with it’s counter full of strangers, sipping coffee, caught for a moment in a light that was both indicative of the Retro Era, and also ancient and timeless, became a touchstone for me. Who were these people? Why were they sitting in this diner, in the dark, dressed to the nines?

12986947_1113554338712282_4936778188313512086_nIn my writing series Nighthawks, I imagine the stories of people as we see them, and as they see themselves, in one brief glance through a window. These character sketches are vignettes, post cards, poems, and the creation of people.

Vinnie & Connie, Part 1

Some people, on realizing they have still got squirrels in their walls, despite genteel removal efforts, turn to poison..
Instead, Tris and I are writing a one act play about Connie and Vinnie, who just moved into a formerly rent controlled apartment and are dealing with the local enforcers.
“Vinnie? why you gotta bury your nuts? You gotta map? you know you ain’t gonna find em without no map,”
“Geez, Connie, why you gotta be like that? I’m like, saving for our future you stupid cow.”

Saving for our future? Is that what you were.doing with Donna in the back of that of that old caddy? “saving for our future ”

Holy Harvest God. Connie, how many times I gotta tell ya? that was about acorns! Nothing but acorns!!

 

I got ROYALTIES!? Go me!

Know what’s amazing? Getting a text from Amazon Kindle that I’ve just had ROYALTIES deposited in my account. ROYALTIES. Ok, it was two bucks. But thanks from the bottom of my heart to whomever just bought me coffee!

I wrote ‘The Temp Job’ late on evening, when all the humans I lived with had gone to bed, but my internet friends, they were still awake. I was looking for some inspiration and asked on my Facebook page for story prompts.

Mita, my darling friend from California whom I met for the first time at deserted train station in the Mojave after she gave me a plane ticket to fly to Vegas, suggested I write about the beach.

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The Beach where Ben and I grew up (JohnSalemme)

Ben, who grew up in the same beach resort town I did, suggested I write about the band ‘Monster Magnet. I know exactly one Monster Magnet Song: Space Lord,  which is the tale of an interplanetary despot who for some reason has a show in Vegas.

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Click here for the Video. Mom, turn your speakers down.

I mashed those two concepts together in my brain and came up with the story of Diana, who is covering the duties of a sister witch on maternity leave. It was late. I was tired. I finished the piece in a couple hours, published it to amuse my friends, and went to bed. Years later, I needed something quick, and above all, done, to test out my new kindle publishing account. I pulled out The Temp Job, dusted it off, and slapped it up on Amazon, to the delight of my family and six other people. Thanks to everyone who has read it, and I’ll post something .. else… soon, I promise!

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Temp Job by Hillary Peatfield

On Friends In Nepal, and Heartbreak from Afar

About a year ago, I got a friend request from a stranger. His name was Aasis, and he was from Nepal, and he looked familiar. I’d just gotten done with a prolonged conversation with some work colleagues who were based in Thailand but lived all over the world, and at first assumed that this stranger was one of them. When I realized that wasn’t the case, I sent his profile picture around to friends from Boston, thinking I’d met him in the dance community, but no one recognized him. A month after we’d become Facebook friends, I messaged him, and asked how we’d met.
The answer was that we hadn’t. He had thought that I had requested him, and I thought the opposite.

Eventually we decided that perhaps he’d seen one of my posts on a blog we had in common, or had been trying to ‘follow’ my page. Maybe that’s the case. Maybe it was one of those weird facebook flukes. Maybe it was just one of those weird things that just happens. To me. A lot.

Although Aasis is from Nepal, he lived at the time in Saudi Arabia, and so he became friends with my friends who grew up in Saudi.. and we both like big dogs, and children, and learning about other cultures.. and eventually we found that bitching about your work is universal, and knows no boundaries. Our introduction turned in to conversation, and our conversations prompted a friendship.

I sent pictures of my home, and my town, and in turn Aasis told me about Nepal and his family. Nepal, and Everest, have been in my heart my whole life, for no other reason than I was named for Sir Edmund Hillary and have always thought it one of the most beautiful places on earth. Until I met Aasis, I knew no one there.

On April 25th, I woke up to find that Nepal had been brought to it’s knees by a devastating quake. I sat in my bed, laptop open, sloshing coffee on the covers as I sobbed. There weren’t even any images out yet, not really, but I could see the devastation in my minds eye, and I grieved for a place that I will never get to see: Nepal before the earthquake is now extinct, in the same way as New Orleans before the flood, as Chernobyl before the meltdown, as the communities of the Indian Ocean before the tsunami.

I messaged Aasis, first thing. Was his family safe? Where was his home village located again? Could he get in touch with them from his home in Saudi? Was there anything I could do to help? It took hours for him to respond, and his answer stopped my heart.

“Hilary I’m at Nepal at this time
For vacation
I’m with them and all of us are good”
My brain skipped back and forth as I read his words. Aasis was in Nepal? Not Saudi? A chill went through me as I realized how much more danger he could have been in than I had even realized, and then a sigh as I comprehended he was safe, as was his family.
Our connection was broken a few times, but we talked that night, and again a few days later, about his home. At first he hoped to travel to Kathmandu, to help with the relief efforts, but it soon became apparent that there would be no point. There is not enough resources for those already in the main city. There is enough to be done where he is.
The night before last, I sent Aasis a message. I hoped to distract him with some stories of my life, and spring in New England. He replied with love, wishing the best for my sons birthday, for our town, for our lives. He told me how it is for him now, where he is.
I’ve excerpted a bit:
” it’s hot like temperature 35 afternoon due to warm winds it’s gonna be all body will be sweating and need to bath two times a days and last disaster of earth quick, building are cracked and still death body inside it’s very hard to remove, all the death Body has been smelling. All the force are trying to remove and clear all the demolished building and they are working 24 hours. Peoples are facing huge problems and they don’t have food and water, tent as well.”

“Finally, pass my warm love to your sons and happy birth day to him. God may always bless to him to show genuine path. Be happy and be safe, be healthy. Aasis”

From a random friend request to a beautiful friend who provides eyes and ears in a place I love though I’ve never been… I’m so glad I’ve met you,Aasis.

Hummingbird in a Crow’s Nest

He was the sort of person who collected the feathers of hummingbirds each night when he filled the feeders with sweet syrup.. They didn’t seem to mind him, buzzing around his head in the dusk, ignoring the long tweezers that plucked daintily only the loosest down, ready to shed anyway, no harm done, and thank you. He liked to think it was his aura that instilled the trust of these wild, quicksilver birds, but when asked he’d admit the winged beasts were most likely drawn frenzied to the syrup, not him, as he’d perfected the color to a true, hibiscus red.
By the end of each summer, the antique salt cellar on the window sill was full of fluff, tiny things that could have built another bird, one that would fly off to warmer places with it’s companions. Feathers so small they could hardly be seen one at a time, but that had propelled their wearer thousands of miles, at a dozen beats of the wing each second.
When the first frost came, he took the salt cellar full of treasure to the garden, and shook it. A thousand tiny feathers flew in to the wind. Three or four would stick, though, each year. Those he brought back inside.
Just after Halloween he’d start the season’s boat. Rigging would be unspooled, and tied with the same tweezers, under a magnifier, in to perfect knots. Sails would be hung, and laquer would be applied in careful layers, evermindful of the beauty of the wood grain.
In the spring, the boat would sail on the pond. And because he liked a joke as much as anyone, each year there would be a crows nest, no matter if the ship, historic in all other respects, would have had one or not. A proper crows nest, properly scaled and woven and sized.. and lined with just a few, soft, tiny feathers.